SpaceX cargo ship reaches space station

Credit: NASA TV

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship caught up with the International Space Station early Monday and then stood by while Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, operating the lab’s robot arm, locked onto the spacecraft to wrap up a two-day rendezvous.

“Well done, well captured,” a flight controller radioed from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Way to make it look easy.”

“To all the teams around the world, we welcome to the ISS the Dragon spacecraft,” Saint-Jacques replied. “Dragon left Cape Canaveral two days ago and brings to ISS more than 2,500 kilos (5,500 pounds) of supplies and scientific equipment for institutions and companies around the world.”

With the Dragon safely in hand, flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston planned to take over, operating the Canadian-built space crane by remote control to pull the Dragon in for berthing at the Earth-facing port of the station’s forward Harmony module.

“As a Canadian, I’m proud every time we use the Canadarm2 for capture. There’s not always a Canadian crew member on board ISS, but in a way, the Canadian engineers and technicians who built and support Canadarm2 are always on board, if not in body at least in spirit. Their ingenuity … is an inspiration to us all.”

Making its second visit to the space station, the reusable Dragon capsule’s pressurized cabin was packed with food, clothing and personal items for the crew, spare parts, computer gear and 1,600 pounds of science equipment and research material.

Another 2,128 pounds of hardware was mounted in the ship’s unpressurized trunk section, including a sophisticated instrument that will be mounted on a deck outside the Japanese Kibo lab module to monitor carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere.

The Dragon is the third cargo ship launched to the space station so far this year following a Russian Progress that reached the lab April 4 and a Northrop Grumman Cygnus that was attached to the central Unity module on April 19. The next cargo run, by another SpaceX Dragon, is planned for July.